I’ve had a fascination with distant radio signals all my life. Since the time I saw programs from stations located two thousand miles away on TV when I was five years old, my obsession with these transmissions has never left me.
While others were content to tune in local radio and TV stations, I often searched for weaker signals. The first time I heard WWL from New Orleans, Louisiana, I naively told my friends. None of them were the least bit impressed. I thought it was wonderful that I heard it all the way up in Edmonton, Alberta.
Mom wasn’t impressed either when I sat mesmerized in front of our TV as station after station faded in and out. “Why do you want to watch those flickering pictures when we have two perfectly good local stations?” she complained. I didn’t have the words to express the wonder of long distance reception back then. She wouldn’t have understood if I did.
I discovered shortwave through the school’s classroom radio. I spent many recesses tuning in Radio Japan, The Voice of America, Radio Moscow, and other broadcasters while the other kids played soccer. Only one teacher understood why I loved receiving such distant programs. He emigrated from Hong Kong, a place more familiar with other cultures.
CB and amateur radio kept me searching for distant voices for decades. I fondly remember when a man in Massachusetts, another in Alabama, and myself in Edmonton talked for an hour one morning as if we were neighbours. The feeling I had couldn’t be explained to non-radio folks.
One of the highlights of my radio hobby was when I exchanged call signs with a cosmonaut aboard the Mir space station. Hundreds of ham operators were trying to get through to him so it was quite an accomplishment for me to acknowledge his receipt of my signal.
But that was nothing compared to the extraterrestrial signals I received on, of all things, my CB radio. As I listened one morning, I heard the sound of something like waves breaking on a beach. My CB friends and I didn’t know what to make of it. It didn’t sound like any sort of interference we ever heard before. Neither was it intentional jamming by some local CB operator since we heard it at the same signal level. I learned later that Jupiter emits radio waves that sound like the washing of water on a beach.
I wrote about my radio hobby in my new book, How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. Check it out on the Virtual Bookworm page. Also visit the Bruce Atchison’s books link to find out about my previous memoirs.